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Cannot move/copy files from an IMAP mail account to an local account folder

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  • Last reply by Toad-Hall

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Hi! I have a lot of IMAP mail account and want to store all relevant mails in an lokal account stored on an local folder. So I created an new local account and selected in the account settings at the option Message Store Type "File per folder (mbox) to store each folder in an separate folder an the local file system.

The Account Name: RS_Mailablage_Zentral Local Directory .....\RS-Mailablage_Zentral


Now I want to move/copy some mails from the IMAP-account to the new local account in an new created folder. But it doesn´t work either by drag & drop nor by using the the option "Move to" in the Message-menu. It doesn´t work in the troubleshoot mode.

In the local directory I found all the created folders from TB as directory foldername, as directory foldername.sbd and as file foldername.msf. You can find some screenshots at the uploaded pictures.

Please can you help me to find a solution.

I use TB version 91.13.0 (64-bit) on Windows 10 Home version 21H2

Hi! I have a lot of IMAP mail account and want to store all relevant mails in an lokal account stored on an local folder. So I created an new local account and selected in the account settings at the option Message Store Type "File per folder (mbox) to store each folder in an separate folder an the local file system. The Account Name: RS_Mailablage_Zentral Local Directory .....\RS-Mailablage_Zentral Now I want to move/copy some mails from the IMAP-account to the new local account in an new created folder. But it doesn´t work either by drag & drop nor by using the the option "Move to" in the Message-menu. It doesn´t work in the troubleshoot mode. In the local directory I found all the created folders from TB as directory foldername, as directory foldername.sbd and as file foldername.msf. You can find some screenshots at the uploaded pictures. Please can you help me to find a solution. I use TB version 91.13.0 (64-bit) on Windows 10 Home version 21H2
Attached screenshots

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The images contain 'Outbox' folder = 'Unsent Messages' mbox file

So this must the 'Local Folders' mail account which you have given a different title. Perhaps you are using an addon called LocalFolders 3.3.2

It would be helpful to see what you have got in the profile folder 'ImapMail/ Imap account name. Have you downloaded full copies or just headers? If no mbox files then you have not downloaded full copies of emails, so you need to get sorted first.

When you want to move an email from an imap folder it will communicate with server, so does Thunderbird have access to the internet? I would advise you always use 'Copy to' because if something goes wrong then at least you will not have lost the original email.

Alternative is to COPY the mbox file from the imap account and paste it directly into the Local Folder account or suitable *.sbd folder eg: Firma.sbd folder Thunderbird must be closed when doing this. See image as guide.

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Thank you Toad-Hall for your fast answer.

I will reply to your post and I hope you get the information that you can help me.

  • '"The images contain 'Outbox' folder = 'Unsent Messages' mbox file"

+ What do you meen with The images contain 'Outbox' folder = 'Unsent Messages' mbox file"? I´m a newbe in the use of TB because I have switched a few month from outlook.'

  • "So this must the 'Local Folders' mail account which you have given a different title. Perhaps you are using an addon called 'LocalFolders 3.3.2 '

+ Yes, I use LocalFolders version 3.3.0 + Shoud I delete the AddOn? Are there any problems with this AddOn?

  • "It would be helpful to see what you have got in the profile folder 'ImapMail/ Imap account name."

+ I have added pics that you can see whats in the folders.

  • "Have you downloaded full copies or just headers? If no mbox files then you have not downloaded full copies of emails, so you need to get sorted first."

+ I hope with the settings (pic) in the "Synchronisation and storeage" menu I allways have a copy of the full message in my profile folder. + What do you mean with " you need to get sorted first."?

  • "When you want to move an email from an imap folder it will communicate with server, so does Thunderbird have access to the internet?"

+ Yes, I have allways connection to the internet!

  • "I would advise you always use 'Copy to' because if something goes wrong then at least you will not have lost the original email."

+ Thank you for the tipp! But both way (move to, copy to) doesn't work.

  • "Alternative is to COPY the mbox file from the imap account and paste it directly into the Local Folder account or suitable *.sbd folder eg: Firma.sbd folder Thunderbird must be closed when doing this. See image as guide."

+ Thank you for the tipp! This is not very usefull for me and could only the last way for bypassing the problem because I want store my mails in an structured folder system (with al lot of subfolders).

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re :+ What do you meen with The images contain 'Outbox' folder = 'Unsent Messages' mbox file"? I´m a newbe in the use of TB because I have switched a few month from outlook.'

By default, Thunderbird will have a special mail account called 'Local Folders'. It is designed to be used as a storage for any emails you want to store on your computer, but stored independently of any POP or IMAP mail account. The 'Local Folders' mail account will automatically have a folder called 'Outbox'. When you want to send an email, but not immediately, you use 'Sent Later' and this prepares email for sending and puts it into the 'Outbox' folder. The 'Outbox' folder gets used by all accounts both pop and imap when using 'Send Later' and it is storing completed but unsent messages - do not be confused I'm not talking about a draft email - a draft is an incomplete copy of email which is still in the process of construction. In the profile folders, all emails gets stored in mbox text files. There will be an mbox file per folder. The 'Outbox' folder as seen in the Folder Pane is showing emails stored in an mbox file called 'Unsent Messages' (no extension).

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re :+ Yes, I use LocalFolders version 3.3.0 Shoud I delete the AddOn? Are there any problems with this AddOn?

You are using Version 3.3.0 Released June 17, 2022 53.2 KiB Works with Thunderbird 91.0 - 102.*

But there is a new latest version 3.3.2 Works with Thunderbird 91.0 - 105.0

This addon has the ability to create additional 'Local Folders' mail accounts. If any addon is causing an issue, the first thing to check is are you using an up to date version which is compatible with the version of Thunderbird that you are using. As you are experiencing an issue with copying emails over to your new 'Local Folders' mail account, I would suggest you uninstall the 3.3.0 version and download and install the latest version as it may contain bug fixes and it also has been designed to work with Thunderbird releases which are expected soon. After installing latest version please restart Thunderbird to ensure it really is working.

I did a search and found this:

Someone has mentioned an issue which sounds the same as yours. They were asked if they restarted Thunderbird after installing addon - hence why I advise you do get the latest release and immediately restart Thunderbird.

So if you still have a problem after installing latest release and restarting Thunderbird then it may help to post info. I notice the original person with issue has not posted any further comments so maybe the restart is necessary. The author asks if there is anything mentioned in the 'Error console'. This is located here: 'Tools' > 'Developer Tools' > 'Error Console' It is a good idea to clear the error console and exit it. Then restart Thunderbird and attempt to copy some emails into the new Local Folders account and if it fails, immediately open the Error Console to see contents. Then go to that link and offer some information. You will need to create an account to post comments.


Please note: addon extensions are the responsibility of the author of the addon and not Thunderbird. They are not paid by Thunderbird to maintain it. Authors of addons do ask for a voluntary contribution to help them to maintain the addon if you like using their addon.

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re :+ I hope with the settings (pic) in the "Synchronisation and storeage" menu I allways have a copy of the full message in my profile folder. + What do you mean with " you need to get sorted first."?

In the "Synchronisation and storeage" menu as per image, you have selected to keep messages in all folders for the account and to synchronise everything regardless of age. If you click on 'Advanced' button, you can double check that all folders have been selected. If I have created new folders, I check this to make sure they have been selected.

These selected settings basically mean when folder synchronises with server folder, a full copy of email is downloaded rather than just the headers.

In the profile folder - as per image - ImapMail > imap.gmx.net It means you see an mbox file (no extension) with same name as the folder you see in Folder Pane. The mbox text file contains fully downloaded emails, listed one after the other in the order downloaded, so oldest will be at the top and newest at the bottom. You will also see a file with same name and a .msf extension. This is an index file used by Thunderbird to display the list of emails that exist in the mbox file of same name. If you only see an *.msf file then only headers were downloaded or you have not saved/downloaded any email into that particular folder. If you see folders with a .sbd extension, it means the folder with same name has subfolders. So, you would have eg: archiv (mbox file - top level folder) archiv.msf (index file) archiv.sbd (subfolders contained in the 'archiv' top level folder - they may contain more mbox files etc)

If for any reason you had only downloaded headers: when you click on email in list there is communication with server and that email gets downloaded to a temp cache to facilitate viewing of email, but it's not downloaded and stored in an mbox file. So if you tried to copy an email in list which was only a header and put it into a 'Local Folder' folder which is not connected to any server, then when you select the copy you will only see header info. Hence why useful to check first.

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Thank you Toad-Hall for your really helpfull answers.

After checking your tipp I can say that

  • I have sync all mails - not only the header
  • All folders in the Advanced section in the "Synchronisation and storeage" menu are select

So at first I have update my TB to version zu the latest version 102.4.0 (64 bit). Next I check the latest version of the addon "LocalFolders" and I found that the latest one ist 3.3.0 for TB 102. So both should work perfect together. Next I deleted all messages from the error-console and started TB.

Now I was well preparied to try to copy some mails from the IMAP account to the local account. Nether drag & drop nor using the the task menu did work. But the icons for copy were shown?

So I tried to copy the same mail in an local ordner with the settings seen in the pic - and it works. But I am not so happy because in a lot of post the used massage storeage type "maildir" is descripted as not runs stable/ well. In general the maildir format sounds good for me because i have to sync less bytes for my backup (only the chanches must be sync and not the whole mbox-file).

So my problem isn't realy solved - What can I try next?

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I have forgotten the pic from the error-console witch input I can't anderstand - I hope you can see the problem in it :)

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  • re :Next I check the latest version of the addon "LocalFolders" and I found that the latest one ist 3.3.0 for TB 102.

No it isn't - the latest version is 3.3.2 it works with Thunderbird 91.0 - 105.0 and that includes all versions in between. Please uninstall 3.3.0 and install 3.3.2

re : But I am not so happy because in a lot of post the used massage storeage type "maildir" is descripted as not runs stable/ well.

You are correct. The developers are still trying to improve this area.

But I now understand your problem better.

All emails in the imap account are stored in mbox files.

You are not using the default location for the 'Local Folders'. You have set up 'Local Folders' to be in B:\Dokumente\Privat\IT\Mails\'Lokale_Ablage_Mails' folder and also set it up as 'Maildir' Info:

Also discovered this for good info - this is not a support forum. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=845952

My advise on a simple copy and past of mbox file to Local Folders will not work. You cannot move mbox files into a 'Maildir' setup as maildir uses a file format .eml.

Please check: Access 'Lokale_Ablage_Mails' and see if you have a 'cur' folder. What is in 'cur' folder? Do the emails stored here have a .eml extension ? It would be useful to see an image showing the folder hierachy in the 'Lokale_Ablage_Mails' folder and also an image showing example of stored emails.

You could try using right click on email > 'Save as' > then locate the 'Lokale_Ablage_Mails' folder and it should contain a 'cur' folder which contains files with a .eml file format structure.

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